2014 Year in Review

So I’m unsure if I’ll be able to try & show this with at least 100 of my friends on Facebook & Twitter, but there a lot of new followers & readers who may be seeing this for the first time. Basically, every year, I break down all of the situations that have come in my life (good or bad). I’ll admit that this blog has a tendency to be lengthy, but if you are a reader, you’ll love it. I’ve been writing these blogs for about 5 or 6 years (if not longer). It’s mostly an opportunity for me to reflect on the high & low points that have come my way over the entire year of 2014. The title has been sitting on this page for a good little while, so I guess I’ll chip at this blog with nearly 5 days until Christmas (though it’s being published the day after Christmas Day). Obviously, the days have changed since I’ve been chipping at this blog. Nonetheless, here we are. I can’t speak for anyone else, but 2014 has been a very rocky road. I’m usually long-winded when writing these, so if you don’t have the time to read, I highly understand (yeah I’m repeating what I shared earlier, because though I said 5-8 minutes, this blog is a lengthy one). Well, starting from the obvious, my legal issues somewhat got the best of me causing me to be in limbo when it came to the status of my employment. I was also trying to establish my personal foundation & finding ways to get into a simple routine by any means necessary. One thing I finally got accomplished was returning home. Home for me was my church home. I was an active member of Pilgrim Baptist Church for over 15+ years. I was helping in small manners from time to time, but I went away from the church. I obviously have no one to blame for that but myself. The pastor of our church has known me as a child, & is a definite mentor outside of church. I had to confide in him (which was no problem) about sharing my story & coming up with a way or a plan to simplifying things by all means. I was back & forth mentally with the decision, but knowing that I was trying to do it on my own, I needed to surround myself with worthwhile people who have some sorta sense. I’m not writing this saying that the individuals within the church were perfect. I found interesting that my level of maturity changed in a major way. When saying this, it refers to how I have learned to deal with the adults within the church. When I was younger, they were adults & I mostly respected them & that be the end of it. Now, I’m 31/32 & I’m talking to them getting them to open their brains/minds with a much different perspective. I’ve been able to become pretty active within the church & helped in so many ways. There are many things that I want to do within the church, but I’ve been doing what is personally placed on my heart & soul/spirit. The first thing I participated in was the men’s ministry. The comfort zone came for me when working with the youth ministry. For some reason, I was placed in something I could handle & possibly keep my mind off of all that was coming down the pike. Well, I was given a date for the motion to suppress, which wasn’t until May of this year. Leading up to that date, I was trying to figure out what exactly I could do. Eventually, my common sense kicked in i to file for unemployment. Thankfully, I was approved, though I personally didn’t expect that I would. One thing I didn’t even speak about was the Boys & Girls Club. I was very & hesitant to head up there with all that was going on in my life. I was also dealing with personal blocks in my life. I won’t go into too much details, but my family had to work together as a team where it mattered most..at home. You’re sometimes forced to realize that it isn’t all about you. I grasped that concept & valued freedom. You’ll understand why I say this.
So, as May was nearing a close & my case was still pending, it turned out that a plea bargain was offered. Now, those who read my blog about my domestic flaw, I initially was charged w/ a felony & a misdemeanor. My biggest thing I had to think about was related to reducing the felony charge to a misdemeanor. Well, when the plea deal was placed, I was definitely a favor. When you’re granted a favor (or a blessing), it normally comes with a sacrifice (that usually isn’t as bad as we ourselves make it out to be). Well, the initial please that was offered would reduce the felony to a misdemeanor & include a sentence of 12 months with all 12 months suspended. With the misdemeanor charge of assault & battery, however, I was facing 12 months with 4 months suspended. In so many words, I would have served at least 4 months based on being released on good time. I asked my lawyer if they could increase the amount of months suspended. He called the prosecutor, & they returned with this deal. Of course, there was more involved, which I will detail in a moment. The plea deal, in it’s entirety (that I accepted) was that the felony charge was reduced to a misdemeanor (as stated before) with the initial misdemeanor being found guilty & serving 12 months with 6 months suspended (3 months of actual time I would serve pending good behavior). I was also able to have days taken off as time served. It was also presented that I was to have no form of contact with the victim for the next 3 years, which was no problem for me. I’ve been forced to think about everything that I put myself through (yeah I kinda steered away from that piece of the puzzle, because it was what it was). So, when I went to court for the motion to suppress hearing, it was mainly the end of the court side of things, because I was taking on a plea. I was then going to be taken over to the jail right there on the spot. My lawyer had initially asked for me to have a month of time on the street before starting my sentence. Instead, the judge stated 2 weeks (which is perfectly fine) is a good amount of time to say goodbye to friends and all that jazz. Two dates that will stick out for me in years to come are June 13th & August 23rd (was initially the 28th when I was supposed to come home). I Served my sentence at Richmond City Jail as well as the newly modeled Richmond Justice Center. My time was uniquely a bit of a fight based on serving time during the summer season. Thankfully, I made it through my sentence. What made it hard was my mother’s reaction in coming to see me. There was one point I told her not to see me because I knew it was weighing her down. I didn’t realize how much it weighed her down until I completed my sentencing.
I’d like to dedicate a paragraph that talks about the time I served. I will admit that I had my ups & downs, but I kept my focus on my release. What I WILL share is that I was highly to make it out 5 days earlier than I was supposed to. Many of my friends didn’t know why I changed my profile pictures & cover photos to be related to Tetris. I wrote a journal entry that I sent to a limited amount of friends (who anonymously shared this w/o my permission, but I digress). I changed it to Tetris because I’m obviously a gamer, but because my life has constantly me rotating pieces & clearing lines as best as I know how. Those lines for us happen to be various situations or obstacles that we weren’t expected to either be a part of or come out of for that matter. Well, the best part is that I walked away from this whole situation much better than expected. The time I spent in jail confirmed something I never realized before….you can’t turn off the streets. For instance, there are those people that have a permanent professional voice. Of course, it changes for various occasions, but when working in the proper environment/surroundings, you do what you’re supposed to accordingly. It’s a lot of inventions & ideas never make it out, because the last thing someone wants to hear is that an invention was created in a jail/prison & an inmate is going to get a patent. I don’t wanna leak too much within this blog since there is a book I plan on working on by the end next year (though this blog is starting to feel like a book). All of my writers reading this…all input & resources are very helpful. One way I simplified time was breaking down into weeks, & it helped lighten my time just a little. Of course, when I had the opportunity to, I got pencil, pen & paper. There were things I wanted on my final attempt at canteen, but it wasn’t a big deal.
When I came home, I knew for a fact that I had work to do. Just din’t know ho much work I was possibly leaving unfinished. There were dysfunctional connections that that i had to get in order, & of all things, I had to face lots of music. The one thing I didn’t know about was the health of my sister. Her health was declining, & I didn’t really have away of adjusting to it. Every time my mom or my other sister would go visit her. I think the toughest point for me is when she was at VCU Medical Center, & I was checking in with people I had previously worked with. When I had to eventually see her, I could tell she was in pain. That was the first time I cried in a long time. Whenever they would have to move her to treat her wounds, I couldn’t face handling the whole thing (her reaction to it all). This is one of those times I don’t mind losing focus, because Daphne was a very loving person. Plus, this was the first year I didn’t get to celebrate Christmas with her & her husband here. She passed on October 4th of this year, & thankfully I got to sit by her bedside & talk to my other sister about different things. Sorry I’m not putting names. I know how people are about having their business on the Internet, thought it’s plastered on there & they don’t even realize it, but that’s neither here nor there. I know how strong it was when my mother didn’t even wanna go in to see her. To this day, I still feel bad about not going to the funeral, but it was pretty personal, & those have been looped on that story understand why I’m not planning any of that online.
Going back to her health declining, I realized that there was more going on that I needed. Over half of my life, I wondered why I confided more in females than men as far as personal situations. This piece may cause me to break down a lot more than many of you were looking to gain in this blog, but if you’re in my life, it’s relevant that you know. On my mother’s side, my brother & I were so much alike, but our perspectives would literally pick & pop with each other. It was so unintentional that it would become second nature. At one time, we were competing with each other, & I didn’t know even realize it. Going even further back (yes, methodical madness), my brother was a key party of why I have this major knack for writing. What he used to do is write me letters from Norfolk, because he went to school at Old Dominion University (I think that’s why I wanted to apply there when going to college). Nonetheless, my brother & I would write letters back & forth to each other, & it helped my creative flow get established. My brother & I literally did something as simple as go out to dinner & watch a little football (the game was a wash…Green Bay won BOOO for personal reasons) & just talk about life & my plans on what I wanna do. I started to make it my goal to begin to put some sorta plans into action. The truth is that both my mother & brother (as strong as they were) couldn’t really prepare for or face this situation with my sister. My brother & I BOTH grew up from this situation, which is never a bad thing. I feel like sometimes we don’t get how important & valuable life is. Also, my brother started my addiction to TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) & Ranch Dressing (Don’t Judge Me). For the life of me, I wondered where it came from. The best part is that my brother & I are definitely working to keep that communication open. Now, my biggest challenge (and it will occur by the year in review next year…I PROMISE YOU!) is to get a relationship re-built with my father, because we were VERY close at one time. Currently it’s a sorta “distant concern” towards each other, which isn’t very healthy. All I’ll tell you is to stay tuned.
So, if you thought that was the end, then you’re forgetting that November & December is where I push to end things on an even higher note. Before I go into however, I’m gonna go back to Halloween (10/31) & put you all in a unique situation I would have never expected. So, I was applying for jobs at various places. I was pushing for this job at The Home Depot. Well, in the process of applying there, I was getting a little traffic & interest from Best Buy. I was kinda in-between because one was better for distance, while the other involved passion & enjoyment. I won’t break down the two, because I’m not stupid (won’t place the reference, but my friends who know will realize why I’m not elaborating on this…or am I). Well, the Home Depot told me I got the job (or so I thought). From here on out, I’ll write THD (The Home Depot) the remainder of this blog. Well, THD had me confident that it was me & everything went through. It turns out that it was the wrong Bryan. I didn’t get discouraged. From the 31st of October until December 9th, I was sitting, wondering, & inquiring, as well as looking for other jobs (so I don’t leave myself high and dry). So, I went in to do an interview with Titan Transportation out in Petersburg. I just wanted to be safe than sorry. Well, we had to see how things would turn out in regards to my background check. It was the week of Thanksgiving when I had an interview (Wednesday) with Titan.
The following week or two, I followed through with my regular routine. Backing up to the start of November, my mom shared the idea to go the workforce center & see what could happen. A week or two before, was going to construction private companies (Trojan & Advanced Temporary Inc.) for some form of work. As stated, I got connected with the Center for Workforce Innovations, & that was somewhat of an open-minded playground for my mind & life to develop in so many various ways. I was able to see that I had a barrier (my record) & that I would have to find a way to work through it. Going around it wasn’t the solution. One thing I gained is that I was lazy about my career. When I got fired at Wellpoint/Anthem, instead of trying to grind to make my way back to computers, I decided to just take jobs (they all enhanced my customer & people-person skills) & not factor in a career whatsoever. Well, while attending the Center for Workforce Innovation (CWI), I met one of the counselors/teachers (Mrs. W. Harris) who asked me to attend her program and learn a few things about customer service & possibly obtain a few certifications along the way. Each day I went, I learned more & more about myself & others. I emphasize this constantly…being open-minded & willing to face who you are while learning from life goes a long way. I was highly forced to sit back & reflect even more on myself, which I had never expected. What’s been even more interesting at CWI is how I noticed some individuals are so close-minded & set in their ways, but wonder why it’s a block or a barrier on people’s ceilings in planning for a future. I had to break out of my shell a little myself, which didn’t hurt me at all. Of course, I told the whole CWI story because it blended into the THD situation. A week or two after Thanksgiving, that Monday (December 1st), I received a voice mail about the job. On Tuesday, I received a good amount of information on banking & how to properly manage your funds while facing the infamous debt crisis known as student loans & credit card chaos (among other things). Once his presentation was complete, I went to use the phone in the class & call the HR person at THD to get an update on my background check. The first words she said were “do you still want the job”. I said “of course”. My background check came back green. All that mattered is that I was being given a chance. So, currently I’ve through orientation & training & all those other things. Right now, I’m going through the safety videos & learning about simple things within the company (in so many words).
After getting off the phone with THD, I decided to call my Alma-Mater, ECPI University to inquire about taking my exams for A+ Certification (Hardware & Software. It was a good thing thing I called the school because I learned that by me being an alumni from ECPI, I can take the exams for 20 dollars per exam. I have 5 vouchers that this applies to. I pay the 20 dollars and the school pays the remaining AS LONG AS I PASS. If I fail, I have to pay the difference along with the 20 dollars (if my memory serves me right). Even better, I can take the exam at the ECPI campus, because they’re a VUE/Pearson testing site. My techie friends know all about those terms. Talking about this is coincidental, because I have been able to light a fire under a few people to their certifications. I mean, if you have the tools to study & are willing to take time to study over the questions related to the exam. Meeting people with plans & willing to go through with those plans is never a bad thing whatsoever.
Today is Christmas (yeah a week remaining & I’m gonna close this out…I PROMISE, so I need to FOCUS) & yesterday, I attended an event at our church called “Christmas in the Courtyard”, & I must admit that I enjoyed it. I was returned back to my middle school years where I was playing the alto sax at Virginia Center Commons and at the school itself. That’s mostly why I listen to music the way I do today (radio, live, stream, etc.). Well, we went to listen to a musical performance (which we did). What I didn’t expect was to be fighting with the omen (my car…all black lol). It was an issue with the car coming out of park. Both the person from OnStar as well as the towing company were telling me to do the same exact thing, which I ended up doing. I had to remove the cover for the Shift Lock Release, and press the button to get it out of park. It was a temporary solution, but it worked. I’ve still gotta get my car looked at ASAP (which I’m doing as I’m finishing up this blog…it’s at the dealer being worked on). Besides, I need to get my inspection since it’s almost due. The reason I share this is that it re-kindled the bond involving my mother that we haven’t had the opportunity to fulfill hardly none of 2014. She’s been very busy & I have had my head/heart in so many crazy places. We luckily were able to just sit and talk and relax and get where each other was coming from (aka our point of view). Sometimes that missing piece is what we need to make sense out of various situations in our lives. Growth definitely comes with living. As I mentioned before, our family is key to our living and functioning in so many ways. Bad enough when you see family that you’ve wanted to see for years. It takes the small things to get us through.
My final piece is my big three (writing, music, & gaming). In so many words, the writing for me has been massive. I know, I was selective in what I did or didn’t share last year, but you’d best believe that in 2015, I’m determined to write about more topics that will keep my readers on their toes. I’ll hopefully be able to get some new readers into the rotation and adjusting to what I have to share. I’ve been quite most of the year since there was a lot internally I had to encounter. Then, there was music. It really seems like music in 2014 wasn’t the best early on. The summer, it basically sucked (from what I was told). Then, after the fall, artists were working. I still didn’t hear about any Christmas CD’s being released. Even more interesting was how hip hop embraced the international musical community. It isn’t the worst idea either when you think about it. I was highly shocked by the Soul Train Music Awards being as good as they were. Many of the big stars thought that awards show was beneath them, though without Soul Train, many of them wouldn’t have even been on stage. The video game communities went through quite a few struggles. There were more delays, lag spikes, & patches or nerfed guns (sorry Call of Duty, I’m calling you out) to the point that cheats were getting exploited left and right. It wasn’t the greatest year, but by this time next year, you won’t hear much talk about the Xbox 360 & the PS3, which means one of the current gen (One or PS4) will be on my person. Just have to stay tuned for what decision will I end up making. This year, they tried out something new w/ the Video Game Awards Show. There were more World Premier’s than actual awards given out, but the fans were happy & Twitter had all of the geeks posting and sharing what they saw as they were seeing it.
OK, we’re literally in the closing stages. If you have hung around this long, then you’re definitely the real MVP of reading. I hope I didn’t miss anyone or anything important. Many faces were seen & have the potential to be seen again or even be seen for the first time when you think about it. I’m gonna give a few closing remarks & then I’ll let this year go writing wise (though I have a few more days of it left to live). Please go into 2015 with the right mindset & a plan. I didn’t write much, but FOCUS. Based on the length of this, FOCUS was very little, but it was good/strong enough to have a purpose/message behind everything that was shared. I write it this way because I had a very brief/bland blog written for last year’s “YIR”. I have mentioned this on numerous occasions, but I wrote this way based on getting a lot of you in my brain & see where I’m coming from with life in so many words. Well, it’s been great. Until my next opportunity to write about the various topics that won’t be as long as this (I’m hoping/praying), this is BT signing out, & if you have time, tell someone you know how much they mean to you. No more lying & denying folks the truth. If someone is toxic, let them be toxic on their own time & personal space. All the new year, new me don’t work if you are holding on to the old you (yeah there’s your quote to close or start the year). OK, I’m gone for real. Mic drop. Goodbye 2014 & see you 2015.

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